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Thursday, November 18, 2010

A formal apology to our international fans and customers

I want to formally apologize for the way I spoke about our international shipping policies during Tuesday's Write Time at 9 broadcast. It's clear to me that my mini-rant was inappropriate and did not at all come across well. I apologize for this profusely and meant in no way to offend any of our international fans and customers. That's the problem with a live broadcast is that we don't get to filter our thoughts before it's published before the world, and in this case, I feel I spoke hastily and without careful thought. It also didn't help that the chartroom was broken during the broadcast, so I couldn't even gauge anyone's reaction as I spoke.

The rant that I went on was simply a frustration of mine that there are almost no protective measures that a small business like ours can put in place against fraudulent transactions with online purchases. What little protection we do have does not apply to us for international customers. This isn't an ideology issue, it's that literally no one out there will offer us protection (USPS, Fedex, UPS, Paypal, credit card merchants like Visa, Mastercard, etc) if we are in fact violated from someone outside of the US. Paypal is the only service that does offer protection, but that is only if you ship to a verified address to the US, Canada, and the UK with a package containing a signature confirmation (something only offered through UPS and Fedex at an incredibly high price). This still leaves the vast majority of international transactions entirely unprotected.

We have been victims of fraud in the past, and there was simply nothing we could do about it. We just lost that money. We're not a big corporation or anything that can absorb these types of losses easily, so literally the only protective measure we can put in place is to use our own judgment on an order-by-order basis. That's certainly not an easy decision to make.

This is something that Rachel and I have really had heavy on our hearts lately. The vast majority of our international customers have been fantastic, but we have had some bad experiences. We've been weighing out the pros and cons of doing international shipping through our website, through paypal only, and every other option. Ultimately, what I think we've decided is to continue international shipping as we have been doing through our website. There still isn't any protection for us, other than our own judgement about individual orders that raise red flags. The potential losses we could face with international fraud are minimal compared to the stellar reputation we've kept up on FPN and other international sites. Please accept our utmost apology and understand that we did not intend to insult the international community, even though that's how it may have seemed.

As a means of amends, we are lowering the price of our international Ink Drop membership from $15 to $12.50 moving forward, and we have enabled all of our international shipping options as before. We want to welcome international customers to our store and hope that you will continue to be fans of ours.

11 comments:

  1. While frankly your comments were a bit ill-conceived, I hope anyone who was offended knows or is made aware that the threat is a very real one. As most heavy readers of FPN probably saw, another merchant had a very negative recent experience with overseas shipping that was a big loss.

    This apology was certainly in order, but the concerns that fueled your remarks are very valid ones. It is not that an issue of international buyers being less trustworthy -- it's that your remedies are a lot more effective if something bad happens with a domestic buyer.

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  2. Like the case that Jimmy James mentions, what boggles my mind is: who would actually rip off mom-and-pop stationery businesses? We're still a fairly small community. It's not like we won't find out, as in the other case.

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  3. As an international customer, I think paypal only is fine, but there are fees for the customer which don't exist on credit card transactions, so maybe you should look to absorb that slightly in shipping costs.

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  4. If you're making a 'personal' payment, there are fees, but if you're purchasing goods from a dealer (like us), we incur the fees just like with a credit card. Are you saying for international paypal payments that both the buyer and seller are paying fees?

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  5. i didn't think it was that awful.

    keep doing what you do, Brian. I love everything about gouletpens.com

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  6. I agree with jniforat.. You were fine. The only person who would have been offended by the rant is the person who is ripping you off (can't believe there is no way for you to be protected against credit card companies taking back their payments!) International buyers may have been a bit disappointed, but you clearly weren't attacking them in general.

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  7. Chris, yeah, it sucks. We had one person use a stolen credit card on us. Two months later, the card company sends us a letter from their lawyer saying they're just going into our account and taking the money back. It's called a chargeback, and there's nothing we can do about it. It sucks!

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  8. Chris, yeah, it sucks. We had one person use a stolen credit card on us. Two months later, the card company sends us a letter from their lawyer saying they're just going into our account and taking the money back. It's called a chargeback, and there's nothing we can do about it. It sucks!

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  9. I agree with jniforat.. You were fine. The only person who would have been offended by the rant is the person who is ripping you off (can't believe there is no way for you to be protected against credit card companies taking back their payments!) International buyers may have been a bit disappointed, but you clearly weren't attacking them in general.

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  10. i didn't think it was that awful.

    keep doing what you do, Brian. I love everything about gouletpens.com

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  11. Like the case that Jimmy James mentions, what boggles my mind is: who would actually rip off mom-and-pop stationery businesses? We're still a fairly small community. It's not like we won't find out, as in the other case.

    ReplyDelete

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